22 May 2018
AP — The British Parliament’s foreign affairs committee slammed the government Monday for “turning a blind eye” to the role London’s financial center plays in laundering the proceeds of Russian corruption, saying it helps the Kremlin finance its aggressive foreign policy.
Despite the government’s tough rhetoric after the nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin’s allies have been able to do “business as usual” in London’s financial center, according to a report titled “Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the U.K.”
It said corrupt assets flowing through the city support the Kremlin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system.
“This has clear implications for our national security,” the committee said. “Turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signaling that the U.K. is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.”
The National Crime Agency estimates that hundreds of billions of pounds of criminal proceeds are laundered through U.K. banks every year, with an unknown portion of that coming from Russia.
Britain needs to crack down on corrupt Russian money following the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, which the government has blamed on the Russian state, the committee said.
Both the U.K. government and the Kremlin rejected the findings of the lawmakers.
Downing Street said Britain had taken a “leading role,” in the global fight against illicit finance.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday said that it sends a chilling message to international investors.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented Russophobic mania in Britain which has various manifestations including this one,” Peskov told reporters in referring to the report.
“What’s more, I have no doubt that investors from other countries will not leave such actions unnoticed because after such steps by Britain, investors from any country could face a situation when their investments will be labeled ‘dirty money.’”
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